MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — With summer workouts in full-sweat and the start of West Virginia preseason camp less than 40 days away, MetroNews continues revealing our Top 10 Most Pivotal Players for the 2014 season. Today we highlight a rehydrated junior who holds the key to a new defensive scheme:
No. 6 K.J. DILLON
Position: Nickel back/ Spur linebacker
Measurables: 6-1, 210
After two seasons in the 3-4, West Virginia will sport a 3-3-5 look that essentially replaces a conventional linebacker with the more-athletic Dillon. It’s a hybrid role similar to how Baylor deployed All-Big 12 selection Ahmad Dixon, directed at coping with the Big 12′s spread offenses.
Dillon possesses the versatility to cover slot receivers and blitz off the edge. Showing good ball skills,he was evolving into a playmaker late last season when his body seized up after the overtime loss to Texas. That frightening bout with dehydration sent Dillon to the ICU and sidelined him for the final two games.
By spring practice, he appeared completely recovered and had added 20 pounds to his frame. That was encouraging to new coordinator Tony Gibson, who worked one-on-one with Dillon as safeties coach last year.
Safety Karl Joseph, after racking up 172 tackles the past two years, will rightfully garner the preseason hype in WVU’s secondary. Yet it’s Dillon’s performance that could determine whether Gibson’s first year running the defense is a successful one.